Mobile responds to location data scandal, says it’s ‘completely ending’ aggregator work

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Amid increasing pressure from federal lawmakers, three of the major USA wireless carriers announced plans to end the sale of location data sharing after a report by Motherboard showed just how easy it was for a bounty hunter to track a reporter's phone.

A researcher reportedly paid $300 to a bounty hunter who was then able to geolocate a phone down to a location in a specific neighborhood only blocks away from the actual location of the targeted phone.

"I'm extraordinarily troubled by reports of this system of repackaging and reselling location data to unregulated third-party services for potentially nefarious purposes", Sen.

Tweet from T Mobile CEO John Legere says that T Mobile plans on ending sales of its customers real-time location data to third party firms in March
Tweet from T Mobile CEO John Legere says that T Mobile plans on ending sales of its customers real-time location data to third party firms in March

"Sadly, most of us assume not only that what we deliberately put on the Internet will fall into unauthorized hands but that data generated by our devices, services and even our human networks will be utilized in various ways we haven't authorized". "We're doing this right and shutting them down one by one, so customers who use this for safety services can make other arrangements", he added. Mark Warner (D-VA) all made statements this week urging Congress to pass legislation to ensure location-data sales come to a halt. T-Mobile's initial promise in June 2018 did not specify an end date.

AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint were found to be selling access to their customer's location data seven months after all of the major USA carriers promised to stop selling user location to data brokers, according to a report by Motherboard. The FTC could also probably ding T-Mobile for being "unfair and deceptive" under Section 5 of the FTC act, yet has been similarly mute as carriers bullshit their way around their failures on this front. The partnerships can power services such as bank fraud prevention and emergency roadside assistance in addition to online ads and marketing deals, which depend on knowing your whereabouts.

"We have previously stated that we are terminating the agreements we have with third-party data aggregators and we are almost finished with that process", a T-Mobile spokesperson told Ars this week. Verizon also said it terminated its relationship with Zumigo, a data aggregator named in the Motherboard report.

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However, without these rules, the broadband providers are not incentivized to change anything despite their aloof public ideals of prioritizing consumer data privacy - even with Securus past year and Motherboard's exposé about MicroBilt a few days ago, a representative of T-Mobile's response was that it is only "nearly finished the process of terminating its agreements with location aggregators".

"The FCC once again appears to have dragged its feet in protecting consumers", Pallone said in the letter.

This call revealed that even after the phone companies in the United States promised that they would stop selling it, they continued to do same.

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Democrats have called for an investigation of the carriers' data-sharing practices. She tweeted Tuesday: "The FCC needs to investigate".

Harris called on the Federal Communications Commission to immediately open an investigation. "This entire ecosystem needs oversight". On Friday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-NJ, asked the FCC to provide the committee's staff with an emergency briefing on the matter. "We do not knowingly share personally identifiable geolocation information except with customer consent or in response to a lawful request such as a validated court order from law enforcement".

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